Swick, Koscheck knock it out of the park

Mike Swick has long been known in mixed martial arts for having lethal hands. But Josh Koscheck, his teammate at San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy, has been 180 degrees the opposite.

Koscheck didn’t let his hard-hitting teammate steal the show on Wednesday, though, when the UFC hosted a fund-raising card for the Fallen Heroes Fund in front of nearly 10,000 soldiers from Fort Bragg at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C.

Only moments after Swick disposed of Jonathan Goulet in just 33 seconds with a brutal assault with his hands, Koscheck might have topped his buddy in a bout against judo black belt Yoshiyuki Yoshida.

Koscheck, a standout collegiate wrestler, knocked out Yoshida with a pair of punishing right hands in the first round of their bout. Koscheck landed a blistering right that likely put Yoshida out on his feet.

Yoshida backed to the cage with his hands at his waist. Koscheck delivered another crackling right that landed squarely on the jaw, sending Yoshida into a dead fall flat onto his back at 2:15 of the round.

“I knew he was looking for the overhand right a lot, so I focused on throwing straight punches,” Koscheck said.

The punches he threw were not only straight, but also powerful. He had a lot to live up to, though, in following Swick.

Swick landed a perfectly placed right to the chin that knocked Goulet down, but Swick didn’t hesitate and admire his work. He was on top of Goulet instantly and landed nearly 20 hard blows before referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight at the 33-second mark.

“I felt good when it hit,” Swick said of the punch that began the end of Goulet’s night. “But I was thinking three punches ahead. When that punch landed, in my mind, I was already in the flurry.”

Swick moved to welterweight after a disappointing loss to Yushin Okami in his hometown of Houston last year at UFC 69. And though he’d gotten criticized by some for his performance against Josh Burkman in his welterweight debut in January, Swick has proven he’s going to be a factor in the 170-pound class with wins over Marcus Davis at UFC 85 in June and against Goulet.

Fighting in front of the soldiers provided Swick with plenty of motivation. Goulet simply turned out to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I let down my hometown, but I was never going to let down the military,” a jubilant Swick said. “It is such an honor to fight in front of these guys, there was no way I was going to let them down.”

Swick had to fight a little longer than he thought he might have after first hurting Goulet. He was landing hard, flush shots and Miragliotta wasn’t inclined to stop it and Goulet wasn’t totally collapsing. Swick began his closing assault with a couple of rights before switching to the left and landing more than a dozen blows in rapid-fire manner.

“I was, actually, [expecting Miragliotta to stop it sooner],” Swick said. “I was shocked he was taking those. I was hitting him hard with those lefts on the head. I kind of panicked a bit and wondered, ‘Is he going to last through this and am I going to lose this position?’ I was determined. I’ve had a few bumps in my career, but I’m healthy and I’m back now.”

Koscheck, too, is back. Only 46 days after a difficult fight against Thiago Alves, he found himself against a talented and dangerous opponent.

Koscheck, who took the Alves fight on two weeks notice when Diego Sanchez pulled out because of an injury, insisted after the loss that he be allowed to keep his spot on Wednesday’s card.

He was back training only four days after the Alves fight. He closed out his year with the most spectacular knockout of his career.

Koscheck said he was so angry with himself that he lived in the gym for nearly five weeks. It was, he admittedly, tough mentally to come back so quickly.

And after Swick’s quick and decisive knockout, Koscheck knew he would have to do something dramatic.

“I was in the back watching on TV and when he knocked the guy out, I said, ‘That bastard, he always gets these fast knockouts. How am I going to top that?’ ” Koscheck said. “But I told myself to stay relaxed and be calm and stick to the plan and fortunately, I got a pretty good one myself.”

The victory should go a long way toward ending the ridiculous notion once and forever that Koscheck is a boring, one-dimensional fighter. The fight with Alves was entertaining and the knockout of Yoshida is going to be on UFC highlight reels for many years.

Koscheck, though, wasn’t optimistic that it would change many opinions, nor is he concerned if it does.

“I always have my wrestling,” Koscheck said. “But in this business, you can’t be concerned about what people think or what they might say. All I am concerned with is winning fights, competing and trying to become a world champion.”

After the show, UFC president Dana White said at least $4 million was raised for the Fallen Heroes Fund while the card was on Spike TV.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Dec 11, 2008